Orbital UAV has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with an undisclosed Singaporean defence manufacturer for the design, development and initial low rate production of multi-fuel engines for unmanned air vehicles (UAVs).
The MoU, announced on 19 March, covers three work Phases, the first of which includes a contract worth an estimated $25-35 million to develop, integrate and supply the first prototype of a new multi-fuel engine. This engine will be based on an existing Orbital UAV design customised for the client’s specific UAV application. Phase 1 includes delivery of at least one engine for flight demonstrations and is expected to be completed within 18 months.
“The MoU and initial contract provide us with the opportunity to further demonstrate our industry leading know-how and technical expertise in the UAV market with a new international customer,” Todd Alder, CEO and Managing Director of Perth-based Orbital UAV, said.
The three Phases covered by the MoU are, firstly, the development and supply of the prototype engine; secondly, the supply of a small number of additional prototype engines for further evaluation requirements; and thirdly, a possible low rate production run of the multi-fuel engine.
Commencement of Phases 2 and 3 is dependent on the successful completion and acceptance by the customer of the first prototype engine identified in Phase 1.
The Singapore deal comes only a few days after Orbital UAV signed an MoU with US UAV manufacturer Insitu Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company, designating Orbital UAV as the primary supplier of two engines.
The two engine models form part of Orbital UAV’s current Long Term Agreement (LTA, expiring in 2023) with Insitu to supply and overhaul three UAV engines which was signed in October 2018. Both engines were previously part of a multi-source award under which In Situ could order the same engines from a number of different suppliers.
Orbital began deliveries of the first engine in 2019; this design was the first derivative of Orbital UAV’s Modular Propulsion Solution and embodies the company’s FlexDI technology. The second engine is an Insitu design that’s being manufactured at Orbital UAV’s US production facility at Hood River, Oregon. The first delivery of a prototype was in January of this year.
“I am encouraged with our team’s progress and the quality of the product we are delivering,” said Alder. “With our Company now in production of two world-class engines from our Australia and USA facilities, our development team now shift their focus to the third engine model [identified] under the LTA.”